What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Dinner time!!

So we call people in the evenings, 4-9 at night with a 6:30-7 dinner break.  Last night for my break I went flyering for Occupy Town Square IV at Fort Green Park in Brooklyn (Sat, Mar 25th).  We work on the third floor, and underneath us is another politically inclined non-profit.  When I walked into their offices thinking I'd hand some flyers out, I was taken aback by the exact same layout and functionality as ours.  A bunch of cubicles making phone calls surrounded by the obligtor offices with doors.  Wow!!  I bet your saying, that's the way everything always is at businesses.  But more for me it just brought to question many things that run through my head about our political and non-profit world.

It wasn't the layout, it was the purpose and functionality.  Non-profit and political campaigns are simply about asking for money.  They are unfortunately not simply funded as an essential apparatus of the operating of a democratic state.  We do not as a society have an institutionalized funding apparatus for the things that are actually - to me - the most important to a society en large: governance and assistance.  Both of these are corner stones to democratic society.  And when I say governance, I do not mean the functionality of the government or what it does, but its guidance.  While we spend trillions of dollars on governmental programs from war, to social services, to government workers, we have left democracy fully and totally privatized.  There is no funding to amplify those voices being heard in small spaces, nor any funding to assist those not being heard in any spaces get into the public sphere.

No news here, but our democratic process - left unfunded - is left solely to the capitalist system and the free market for regulation.  Everything in the electoral system of any scalable importance is privately funded.  Hence these two organizations I've referred to spending so much time and effort on fundraising.  Why must organizations working so hard to bring to the fore political and socio-economic issues and injustices - so essential to a knowledgeable electorate - be so left upon itself?

Now I know, I am bring up an insurmountable political cauldron, but I am seeking more to just address a question of a principle: political awareness as a human right.  Why not?  The UN's declaration on Human Rights touches on political issues in article 21, but it's of course toothless and offers no substance.  But if anything is of importance, this is the first thing that a society should be promoting and funding: the awareness of our social world in a way that is transparent and builds social and electoral capacity.  Yes, I know, there are a million questions about what gets funded, how, by who, and how it would work in general.  But those are questions beyond the level of the "principle" that popped into my head, and they should be saved for another day.  At its core though, this concept stems from the public financing of elections and runs further into non-profits doing political work, and then even into non-profits doing relief, aid, and empowerment work.

Our society is bleeding.  Look around both America and the world.  Poverty is our greatest threat.  Disparity of means and wealth, health and wellness, human security.  Not some dictator or terrorist far off, but the poverty that keeps people down and allows them to be dictated to - our own Dictorship.  Our lack of transparency, our lack of democratic and social voice all handcuff us at every moment.   We live in a society where political speech is completely regulated on a systemic level in a way that discourages true democratic engagement and disallows true change. 

Fact is, these two organizations are both contingent upon not just money, but money that currently must come from private individuals, private foundations, companies, etc.  All of these entities have one thing in common: individual AGENDAS!  They all come from places not systemically promoting the greater good.  I want a political system that funds the agenda of itself, the free and fair democratic rule by the people - alllllllll the people.  Not just those with money, not just those with direct stakes in issues, but everyone.

How can this be done?  Well in our current context, we have to fund bringing a voice to everyone.  Meaning political pressure groups would need to be transparent and funded by a state-like apparatus.  Empowerment type groups and community organizations would have to be funded by a state-like apparatus.  All political parties would need to be funded by a state-like apparatus based on the common good.  They all could illuminate their issues to and for the greater good, and work towards addressing - or having their issues addressed - to and for the greater good.

Obviously, this is an INCREDIBLY complex and incomplete thought and does not actually fit well into our current socio-economic structure.  But the point I am trying to make is that a privatization of the democratic process - such as exists in America - does not serve the democratic process itself but rather those who privately can control and affect it through their own private individual means.  Again no mystery here, but still, it was tough to walk into a room and see it all so blatantly obvious, so blatantly preposterous.  That so much human capital was being spent on trying to make money to try to simply engage in the political process on such a basic level.  All this while, so much of our country's financial capital is being given to an effort to destroy both humans and their capital in agenda driven wars and policies throughout the world.  Maybe it wouldn't be such a bad idea to make the Pentagon do door-to-door and telephone fundraising for their wars, just like we have to do for the fight against poverty and for a democratic voice.      

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